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Principal Investigator

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2006, Ph.D. 'Biology, Medicine and Health', option Neurosciences; University of Caen, UMR CNRS 6185, Centre CYCERON (France)
January 2007 to June 2012, Postdoc in François Guillemot’s lab, National Institute for Medical Research (London, UK)

Expertise: neurogenesis, RhoGTPases, neuronal development, Rnd proteins

24 publication(s) since Février 2005:

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The indicated IF have been collected by the Web of Sciences in

The generation of neurons by neural stem cells is a highly choreographed process that requires extensive and dynamic remodelling of the cytoskeleton at each step of the process. The atypical RhoGTPase Rnd3 is expressed by progenitors in the embryonic brain but its role in early steps of neurogenesis has not been addressed. Here we show that silencing Rnd3 in the embryonic cerebral cortex interferes with the interkinetic nuclear migration of radial glial stem cells, disrupts their apical attachment and modifies the orientation of their cleavage plane. These defects are rescued by co-expression of a constitutively active form of cofilin, demonstrating that Rnd3-mediated disassembly of actin filaments coordinates the cellular behaviour of radial glial. Rnd3 also limits the divisions of basal progenitors via a distinct mechanism involving the suppression of cyclin D1 translation. Interestingly, although Rnd3 expression is controlled transcriptionally by Ascl1, this proneural factor is itself required in radial glial progenitors only for proper orientation of cell divisions.

26/04/2012 | Neuron   IF 14.4
Crucial first steps: the transcriptional control of neuron delamination.
Pacary E , Martynoga B , Guillemot F

A crucial event in the birth of a neuron is the detachment of its apical process from the neuroepithelium. In this issue of Neuron, Rousso et al. (2012) show that repression of N-cadherin by Foxp transcription factors disrupts apical adherens junctions and triggers neurogenesis.

2012 | J Vis Exp   IF 1.1
Visualization and genetic manipulation of dendrites and spines in the mouse cerebral cortex and hippocampus using in utero electroporation.
Pacary E, Haas MA, Wildner H, Azzarelli R, Bell DM, Abrous DN, Guillemot F

In utero electroporation (IUE) has become a powerful technique to study the development of different regions of the embryonic nervous system (1-5). To date this tool has been widely used to study the regulation of cellular proliferation, differentiation and neuronal migration especially in the developing cerebral cortex (6-8). Here we detail our protocol to electroporate in utero the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus and provide evidence that this approach can be used to study dendrites and spines in these two cerebral regions. Visualization and manipulation of neurons in primary cultures have contributed to a better understanding of the processes involved in dendrite, spine and synapse development. However neurons growing in vitro are not exposed to all the physiological cues that can affect dendrite and/or spine formation and maintenance during normal development. Our knowledge of dendrite and spine structures in vivo in wild-type or mutant mice comes mostly from observations using the Golgi-Cox method( 9). However, Golgi staining is considered to be unpredictable. Indeed, groups of nerve cells and fiber tracts are labeled randomly, with particular areas often appearing completely stained while adjacent areas are devoid of staining. Recent studies have shown that IUE of fluorescent constructs represents an attractive alternative method to study dendrites, spines as well as synapses in mutant / wild-type mice (10-11) (Figure 1A). Moreover in comparison to the generation of mouse knockouts, IUE represents a rapid approach to perform gain and loss of function studies in specific population of cells during a specific time window. In addition, IUE has been successfully used with inducible gene expression or inducible RNAi approaches to refine the temporal control over the expression of a gene or shRNA (12). These advantages of IUE have thus opened new dimensions to study the effect of gene expression/suppression on dendrites and spines not only in specific cerebral structures (Figure 1B) but also at a specific time point of development (Figure 1C). Finally, IUE provides a useful tool to identify functional interactions between genes involved in dendrite, spine and/or synapse development. Indeed, in contrast to other gene transfer methods such as virus, it is straightforward to combine multiple RNAi or transgenes in the same population of cells. In summary, IUE is a powerful method that has already contributed to the characterization of molecular mechanisms underlying brain function and disease and it should also be useful in the study of dendrites and spines.

07/2011 | Cereb Cortex   IF 5.4
Angiopoietin-2 regulates cortical neurogenesis in the developing telencephalon.
Marteau L , Pacary E , Valable S , Bernaudin M , Guillemot F , Petit E

Vascular-specific growth factor angiopoietin-2 (Ang2) is mainly involved during vascular network setup. Recently, Ang2 was suggested to play a role in adult neurogenesis, affecting migration and differentiation of adult neuroblasts in vitro. However, to date, no data have reported an effect of Ang2 on neurogenesis during embryonic development. As we detected Ang2 expression in the developing cerebral cortex at embryonic day E14.5 and E16.5, we used in utero electroporation to knock down Ang2 expression in neuronal progenitors located in the cortical ventricular zone (VZ) to examine the role of Ang2 in cortical embryonic neurogenesis. Using this strategy, we showed that radial migration from the VZ toward the cortical plate of Ang2-knocked down neurons is altered as well as their morphology. In parallel, we observed a perturbation of intermediate progenitor population and the surrounding vasculature. Taken together, our results show for the first time that, in addition to its role during brain vasculature setup, Ang2 is also involved in embryonic cortical neurogenesis and especially in the radial migration of projection neurons.

01/05/2011 | Gene Dev   IF 9
A novel function of the proneural factor Ascl1 in progenitor proliferation identified by genome-wide characterization of its targets.
Castro DS , Martynoga B , Parras C , Ramesh V , Pacary E , Johnston C , Drechsel D , Lebel-Potter M , Garcia LG , Hunt C , Dolle D , Bithell A , Ettwiller L , Buckley N , Guillemot F

Proneural genes such as Ascl1 are known to promote cell cycle exit and neuronal differentiation when expressed in neural progenitor cells. The mechanisms by which proneural genes activate neurogenesis--and, in particular, the genes that they regulate--however, are mostly unknown. We performed a genome-wide characterization of the transcriptional targets of Ascl1 in the embryonic brain and in neural stem cell cultures by location analysis and expression profiling of embryos overexpressing or mutant for Ascl1. The wide range of molecular and cellular functions represented among these targets suggests that Ascl1 directly controls the specification of neural progenitors as well as the later steps of neuronal differentiation and neurite outgrowth. Surprisingly, Ascl1 also regulates the expression of a large number of genes involved in cell cycle progression, including canonical cell cycle regulators and oncogenic transcription factors. Mutational analysis in the embryonic brain and manipulation of Ascl1 activity in neural stem cell cultures revealed that Ascl1 is indeed required for normal proliferation of neural progenitors. This study identified a novel and unexpected activity of the proneural gene Ascl1, and revealed a direct molecular link between the phase of expansion of neural progenitors and the subsequent phases of cell cycle exit and neuronal differentiation.

24/03/2011 | Neuron   IF 14.4
Proneural transcription factors regulate different steps of cortical neuron
migration through Rnd-mediated inhibition of RhoA signaling.

Pacary E, Heng J , Azzarelli R , Riou P , Castro D , Lebel-Potter M , Parras C , Bell DM , Ridley AJ , Parsons M , Guillemot F

Little is known of the intracellular machinery that controls the motility of newborn neurons. We have previously shown that the proneural protein Neurog2 promotes the migration of nascent cortical neurons by inducing the expression of the atypical Rho GTPase Rnd2. Here, we show that another proneural factor, Ascl1, promotes neuronal migration in the cortex through direct regulation of a second Rnd family member, Rnd3. Both Rnd2 and Rnd3 promote neuronal migration by inhibiting RhoA signaling, but they control distinct steps of the migratory process, multipolar to bipolar transition in the intermediate zone and locomotion in the cortical plate, respectively. Interestingly, these divergent functions directly result from the distinct subcellular distributions of the two Rnd proteins. Because Rnd proteins also regulate progenitor divisions and neurite outgrowth, we propose that proneural factors, through spatiotemporal regulation of Rnd proteins, integrate the process of neuronal migration with other events in the neurogenic program.

This study demonstrates that a prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor, FG-0041, is able, in combination with the ROCK inhibitor, Y-27632, to initiate differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into neuron-like cells. FG-0041/Y-27632 co-treatment provokes morphological changes into neuron-like cells, increases neuronal marker expression and provokes modifications of cell cycle-related gene expression consistent with a cell cycle arrest of MSC, three events showing the engagement of MSC towards the neuronal lineage. Moreover, as we observed in our previous studies with cobalt chloride and desferroxamine, the activation of HIF-1 by this prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor is potentiated by Y-27632 which could explain at least in part the effect of this co-treatment on MSC neuronal differentiation. In addition, we show that this co-treatment enhances neurite outgrowth and tyrosine hydroxylase expression in PC12 cells. Altogether, these results evidence that concomitant inhibition of prolyl hydroxylases and ROCK represents a relevant protocol to initiate neuronal differentiation.

09/2008 | J Cerebr Blood F Met   IF 6
Combined therapeutic strategy using erythropoietin and mesenchymal stem cells potentiates neurogenesis after transient focal cerebral ischemia in rats.
Esneault E , Pacary E , Eddi D , Freret T , Tixier E , Toutain J , Touzani O , Schumann-Bard P , Petit E , Roussel S , Bernaudin M

Many studies showed beneficial effects of either erythropoietin (EPO) or mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) treatment in cerebral ischemia. In addition to a neuroprotective role, not only EPO but also MSC favors neurogenesis and functional recovery. In an attempt to further improve postischemic tissue repair, we investigated the effect of a systemic administration of MSC, in the presence or not of EPO, on neurogenesis and functional recovery in a transient focal cerebral ischemia model in the adult rat. Twenty-four hours after ischemia, the rats were divided into four groups, namely vehicle, MSC, EPO, and MSC+EPO, and received a single intravenous injection of MSC (2 x 10(6) cells) and/or a repeated intraperitoneal administration of EPO (1,000 UI/kg) for 3 days. The lesion volume, the MSC outcome, neurogenesis, and functional recovery were assessed 51 days after ischemia. The results showed that cellular proliferation and neurogenesis were increased along the lateral ventricle wall in the MSC+EPO group, whereas no significant effect was observed in groups receiving MSC or EPO alone. This effect was accompanied by an improvement of mnesic performances. Mesenchymal stem cells expressing neuronal or glial markers were detected in the ischemic hemisphere. These results suggest that EPO could act in a synergistic way with MSC to potentiate the postischemic neurogenesis.

07/2007 | Mol Cell Neurosci   IF 2.9
Crosstalk between HIF-1 and ROCK pathways in neuronal differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells, neurospheres and in PC12 neurite outgrowth.
Pacary E , Tixier E , Coulet F , Roussel S , Petit E , Bernaudin M

This study demonstrates that the Rho-kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, Y-27632, potentiates not only the effect of cobalt chloride (CoCl(2)) but also that of deferoxamine, another HIF-1 inducer, on mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) neuronal differentiation. HIF-1 is essential for CoCl(2)+/-Y-27632-induced MSC neuronal differentiation, since agents inhibiting HIF-1 abolish the changes of morphology and cell cycle arrest-related gene or protein expressions (p21, cyclin D1) and the increase of neuronal marker expressions (Tuj1, NSE). Y-27632 potentiates the CoCl(2)-induced decrease of cyclin D1 and nestin expressions, the increase of HIF-1 activation and EPO expression, and decreases pVHL expression. Interestingly, CoCl(2) decreases RhoA expression, an effect potentiated by Y-27632, revealing crosstalk between HIF-1 and RhoA/ROCK pathways. Moreover, we demonstrate a synergistic effect of CoCl(2) and Y-27632 on neurosphere differentiation into neurons and PC12 neurite outgrowth underlining that a co-treatment targeting both HIF-1 and ROCK pathways might be relevant to differentiate stem cells into neurons.

28/03/2007 | Behav Brain Res   IF 2.8
Long-term evaluation of sensorimotor and mnesic behaviour following striatal NMDA-induced unilateral excitotoxic lesion in the mouse.
Haelewyn B , Freret T , Pacary E , Schumann-Bard P , Boulouard M , Bernaudin M , Bouet V

Excitotoxic lesion of the striatum provides a useful model for evaluating the excitotoxic processes involved in neurological disorders, in particular stroke diseases. The behavioural outcome after such injury is however poorly described. We have therefore investigated the potential behavioural deficits induced by a NMDA-induced excitotoxic unilateral lesion of the lateral part of the striatum, by comparison with a PBS striatal injection (sham procedure), and non-operated mice behaviour. Three groups of male adult Swiss mice were constituted: unilateral NMDA (20 nmol striatal NMDA injection), sham (striatal PBS injection), and control (healthy non-operated mice). From 14 to 29 days post-surgery, sensorimotor and mnesic tests were performed in all groups. After euthanasia, immunohistochemical stainings (NeuN and GFAP) were performed in order to assess the size of the lesion. Straight runway and passive avoidance performances revealed mild deficits related to the excitotoxic NMDA-induced lesion as compared to the sham procedure. Moreover, accelerated rotarod and Morris water maze acquisition performances also revealed deficits related to the surgery, i.e. observed in sham-operated as compared to control mice. NeuN staining revealed no striatal lesion in the sham and non-operated groups in contrast to the NMDA-injected group in which the volume of infarcted striatum was 2.4+/-0.3mm3. GFAP staining revealed a glial reaction in the lesioned striatum of NMDA animals and at the PBS injection site in sham animals. These results suggest that NMDA-induced excitotoxic lesion induces subtle long-term behavioural deficits in mice. Moreover, this study shows the importance of the sham group to investigate the behavioural deficits after excitotoxic lesion models in mice.